Two Edgewood High School students, described as scholastic leaders, were killed and three of their fellow students on the school's competitive academic team were injured in a car crash last night in Abingdon. They were on their way to a school board meeting to receive academic honors.
On Feb. 14, two other Edgewood High School students were killed when their car went out of control on a curve near Churchville and crashed into a pole.
"It's very somber, very quiet in this school today," said principal Robert C. Williams. "These deaths have struck the families and us very hard. They all were special kids . . . they reaped the benefit of the hard work of their teachers. They were believers."
Mr. Williams is in his first year as Edgewood's principal. He previously was principal at Edgewood Middle School.
"I knew every one of these kids since the sixth grade," he said. "I saw them grow."
Mr. Williams said members of a county crisis team were counseling students and faculty members today. A special faculty meeting was called at 7 a.m.
Students chatting in the hallways belied the darker mood in the school library where 10 psychologists, clergy members and counselors met with students and teachers.
There, students were seen hugging each other. One girl cried openly.
At the end of last night's Harford County school board meeting at Southampton Middle School in Bel Air -- where the five teen-agers were headed to be recognized for winning a regional academic contest -- board president George D. Lisby asked for a moment of silence.
Killed was Robert Walls Jr., 17, of the 3400 block of Brooks Ave. in Abingdon, who was driving the four other students to the meeting.
Also killed was Kevin Poznaniak, 15, of the 300 block of Palmetto Drive in Edgewood, who was in the back seat.
The Walls car entered U.S. 40 from Long Bar Harbor Road and was struck at 6:25 p.m. on the driver's side by a car driven by Charles Lawson III, 25, of Churchville, said Tfc. Darryl M. Collins of the State Police.
Police said the Walls car apparently ran a stop sign.
Mr. Lawson was treated for facial and head injuries at Fallston General Hospital and released.
A passenger in his car, Stephanie Schere, 28, also of Churchville, was in serious condition today at the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center in Baltimore.
Two other passengers in the Walls car, Keith Daw, 17, of Sweetbay Drive in Edgewood, and Matthew McMahon, 17, of East Baker Avenue in Abingdon, were in serious condition at Shock-Trauma.
The other passenger, Robert Schimmel, 17, also of East Baker Avenue in Abingdon, was treated for minor injuries at Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace.
School officials said the five were on the school's academic team that competed on "It's Academic," on a Baltimore television station.
They also took first place in a regional academic contest called "Data Race," defeating high school teams from Baltimore County and Baltimore, the principal said.
They were planning to go to Chicago later in the school year to compete in the national competition of "It's Academic." Students, parents and teachers had been conducting pit beef and baked goods sales to raise money for the trip.
"They practiced every day after school," Mr. Williams said. "They went to these things prepared, they believed in themselves."
The principal described Rob Walls as "driven, dedicated, very bright."
"He lived with his mom and came to school to learn," Mr. Williams said. "He was going to handle the lighting for our school play this weekend, 'The Pajama Game.' "
Kevin Poznaniak, a sophomore, was characterized as a geography buff. "He was an outstanding student and fine person to go with it."
Mr. Williams said he found it difficult to come to grips with the deaths.
"There was no alcohol, no drugs involved as causes in either accident," he said. "We lost good kids, solid citizens, top-of-the-line people.
"And I would have called them that yesterday, when they were living," the principal said.
The two Edgewood students killed Feb. 14, Chad David Sullivan, 17, and Kimberly Ann Lester, 15, also were popular and active students.
Chad Sullivan played lacrosse on the school varsity team and Kimberly Lester was a cheerleader and performed on the girls' lacrosse and soccer squads.
The two were killed when their car crashed on Md. 136 in Churchville, State Police said. Young Sullian was driving the car that went out of control on a curve, crossed the road and crashed into a pole.
Excessive speed was the cause of the accident, police said.